If ever there was a time for government, business and social society to work together, it is now. The Upskill book looks at the alarming skills shortage, the increasing demand for talent and the high vacancy rate in technical jobs throughout the Western world. The frightening implications of this continuing trend coupled with unemployment – especially in youths and older workers – is not to be dismissed. This book affords the reader a view of the ‘organisational pain’ being produced by massive layoffs triggered by skill obsolescence in industries that are falling short in recruiting resources for key and critical jobs.

Our hope is that this book hastens the adoption of our radical vision of government, business and society working together to ensure a brighter future for all. We also hope that you enjoy reading the concepts and examples we have compiled here.

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Figure 01: Upskill! A 6 Step Solution


Gravest of Situations (Section I)

In Section I, we look at the early warning signs presenting themselves in most developed countries. Overqualified workers are jobless; their skill-set or experience not suited to the jobs available1. Large numbers of youth, emerging from years of unfocused education, are finding themselves unemployed and unemployable. The impact on business revenue and GDP, as populations migrate and businesses move, is undeniable.

Faced with a new marketplace reality, Ministries of Labour, Economy and Education are finding that what worked in the past is beyond inadequate; that curative solutions for unemployment are ineffective. They must now find a balance between offering ‘the expected’ support to unemployed workers, while providing visionary leadership for upskilling toward the ephemeral ‘future jobs’ perspectives.

Finally, we look at HR as it becomes integral to strategy setting and implementation. Management is realising that HR is one of the most strategic departments in the company. The cost of not upskilling the employee population is massive.


Figure 02: Automation of Jobs


The message in the first section of this book is clear: Change now… or become obsolete. Government, business and individuals must work together to implement a holistic and sustainable solution. Distributing power and accountability between these groups will combat the widening gap between obsolete workers and the market’s demand for workers who can fill new jobs.


6 Steps, The Upskilling Solution (Section II)

Fundamental to every journey is a map that points the way. Section II explains a solution that is already being used by a few visionary governments and businesses to: 1) alleviate economic stress, 2) address current challenges, and 3) rewrite the predicted pessimistic future. Communication is integral to the successful implementation of upskilling initiatives, and the heart of this model. Like most organisational change initiatives, engagement and accountability are central to success. This type of initiative requires government, business and individual workers to question their habits. Working together to create sustainable economic opportunities and jobs, demands that leaders and sponsors act as role models. Everyone has a part to play. Each group must take steps to align strategically to ensure full and meaningful use of resources. In the Return on Investment chapter, we provide details regarding the savings garnered by strategic investment in upskilling – for the company and government. The savings are not insubstantial; every €1 spent to upskill an at-risk worker nets out €2 in savings and revenue generation.

Our roadmap is built on simple principles. Anyone who has organisational development or change management exposure will recognise and embrace the familiar operational elements. This approach obliges key stakeholder groups to put away ineffective agendas and antagonistic strategies. It compels everyone to have conversations that create understanding and buy-in for the new paradigm.


Upskilling Ecosystem Paradigm Shift (Section III)

Throughout history, we have dismissed thousands of inventions and new systems as not feasible or even impossible. Yet no matter how phobic we are, or the breadth of change we must undertake, eventually we realise the value of taking a different, more effective approach. Some readers may not believe that people can come together to work for their own greater good. Section III is all about dispelling that belief. It delivers the good news of upskilling. It furnishes details regarding some of the most important elements associated with upskilling and ample examples of how upskilling is working around the world.


Table 01: Stakeholder Actions


The numbers are clear. This model, correctly implemented, allows companies and countries to be more competitive, as well as save corporate and tax-payer funds. It improves GDP, empowers the underrepresented, and attracts commerce and industry to job centres of excellence. It even, in an indirect manner, strengthens democracy.  

Upskilling or Reskilling?

For most people, ‘reskilling’ is associated with difficult situations in which people lose their jobs during specific crises or unfortunate business catastrophes and require retraining to find a new one. Its negative connotation is associated with a small, unemployable group of under-qualified workers who lacked abilities. Using the word ‘upskilling’ allows us to clearly delineate from reskilling and its negative implication. Upskilling suggests a worker’s clear intent to expand capacity and therefore, employability; to advance and progress their competency portfolio, including technical, soft and digital skills. By upskilling, an employee can offer more to a company and their employment would generally be more interesting and sustainable. Upskilling also suggests a more positive dimension and better situation for the future. This is very important in terms of employee buy-in.

Finally, our underlying premise is that today realistically, the entire workforce will be required to expand or augment their skills regularly. Upskilling means a lower dependence on market conditions and increased added-value for the individual. It indicates a more positive future situation and therefore is more appropriate in this context. 80% of CEOs in the last PwC survey, clearly indicated a concern with talent availability and their feeling of accountability for ensuring that current workers are requalified regularly3. Thus, upskilling is more appropriate to use in this context than a word originally associated with just a small group who have lost their jobs.


Communicated by PwC Luxembourg

Publié le 08 octobre 2019